Monday, February 20, 2012

Dylan Brody's "Chronological Disorder"


There are a few moments in my life that, for whatever reason, have been burned into my brain and will stick with me for as long as I live. I don't know what it was about those particular experiences (company, circumstances, or a mix of the two) that came together to make for what was nothing less than a truly magical time. I won't soon forget the time my buddy Paul and I did way too many espresso shots at the coffee house on the Santa Monica pier. There was the time I stayed up all night with my pals Tim, Ethan, and Aubry discussing life and its intricacies around a Pennsylvania campfire. I won't soon forget the time my wife Sarah and our friends Alyssa and Ashlea spent a late night strolling through the Irish town of Adare after drinks and dinner at the Tom Collins Pub. And, of course, there was the night during an Indiana thunderstorm where Sarah and I shared a kiss, our drenched clothes the very least of our concern.

Each of those memories is tinted with a magical feeling as I look back upon them and without sounding too dramatic, Chronological Disorder by Dylan Brody manages to capture the essence and feel of one of those special evenings. Even though he spends over an hour sharing stories, laughs, and moments of revelation, I wished it would last just a little longer. I'm very grateful to be able to recognize when I'm experiencing one of those Special Moments and the one thing that makes listening to this album different from those other occasions is, when it's all done, you can press PLAY and re-live the exact same experience all over again.

This project was recorded in a very intimate setting and the close-quarters feel really adds to the experience. Rather than listening in to a recording of what happened in a comedy club once upon a time, you're drawn in and become a part. It's like you're sitting there while everything unfolds for the first time (even when it's your third time listening), a small gathering of close friends and fellow admirers of fine words and phrases. You can almost hear the fireplace crackling and smell the freshly-uncorked wine as Brody invites us to settle in for an evening of intricately-worded and perfectly-sculpted works of spoken art.

Because that's what this is, really. Although I truly believe stand up comedy is an art form, this is something different. It's not stand up comedy as much as it is the humorous portraiture of life events.

All right, I just realized I'm already a few hundred words into this review and I haven't really spoken about the album's material as much as I have the feeling one walks away with after having experienced it. That's OK, though. With Brody, there's not really any such thing as "getting right to it." That's just part of the journey. Brody leaves himself plenty of freedom to stray from the story at hand because he knows it will all come back around in the end and, as far as he may seem to stray (he doesn't officially "begin" until 18 minutes into the proceedings), it always serves to enhance the experience. I sincerely believe it would be selling Brody short if I left out the tone and mood that we come away with. We're left with a real sense of wonder.

In that regard, Brody reminds me a lot of Steven Spielberg. Do you remember how you felt after the first time you saw E.T., Saving Private Ryan, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Jurassic Park in the movie theater? All very different movies with very different flavors but they all left you (or at least, me) walking back to the car amid a swirling cloud of "Wow." Although there are no dinosaurs or tombs full of asps in this project, you still walk away with the feeling that you just experienced something...significant.

When Brody tells a story, he really tells a story. He takes full advantage of his vast grasp of the power of language. When he's relating a tale events don't just "deteriorate" or "decline." Instead, they "spiral downward like Larry Flynt at the Guggenheim." I love that. Despite his broad arsenal of references, there is no intellectual pomposity here and everyone is invited to enter in and come along. Nothing portrays that better than this simple introduction to one of his pieces:

"This is a funny story. I hope."


Of course, Brody's hope comes fully to fruition, as his stories are indeed funny. Whether he's explaining how quickly a girl can go from "hot prospect" to "golden ticket" or taking issue with someone claiming to play the role of Devil's Advocate ("The devil doesn't need an advocate. He's the devil...Once you acknowledge that you are advocating the point of view of Beelzebub, you give up the right to claim the moral high ground"). There isn't a tale told that doesn't fail to hit the mark and despite the fact that a number of the tracks clock in at well over 10 minutes, there are no lulls; Brody not only knows what he's doing but he knows how to do it well.

Although each story here is filled with humor and sincere laughter abounds, the focus is on the way the story is conveyed as much as it is on the reaction it will garner. Brody's poor fashion choices result in a unique encounter with a street gang. A rough weekend in Atlantic City dovetails into a poignant moment with his wife and his newly-crafted ancient Zen parable helps put things into perspective for those languishing moments in life when we feel we are being unjustly punished.

As I not-so-subtly hinted at in a previous post, I loved this album. I loved how it made me feel while I was listening and I loved the sense of wonder it left me with when it was over. If Brody has indeed been diagnosed with "Chronological Disorder," I hope they never find a cure.

***

2 comments:

  1. Immediately picked this up from itunes based on your write up. I appreciate all the hard work you put into this site.

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    1. That's awesome, Mr. Craig! Thanks for your kind words. I hope you enjoyed the album!

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